The second launch of China’s new-generation Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday, fading country’s ambitious space aspirations.
China experienced a rocket failure 40 minutes after the largest rocket lifted off at 7:23 p.m. local time (7:23 a.m. ET) from the seaside Wenchang space launch center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
Once the rocket reached the air, mission control in Beijing tried to save the rocket by changing its flight plans, but those attempts were unsuccessful. The rocket, along with the experimental communications satellite it was carrying, crashed into the Pacific Ocean shortly afterwards.
This occurrence could affect future Chinese space programmes.
“Delays are possible. The rocket cannot fly until we find out the problem and solve it, and that will take time,” said Wang Jianyu, the commander in chief of China’s quantum satellite project who is also involved in the moon missions.
Experts say that important projects including lunar exploration and space construction could delay the process.
“With the LM-5 being new technology, the failure points out that rocket science is extremely difficult and why more countries don’t have the technology,” Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College and an expert on China’s space program, said.
China planned to launch the Chang’e 5, a large unmanned spacecraft, to the moon by the end of this year. Its mission was to land a rover on the dark side of the moon and bring back rock and soil samples.
With this mission, China was ready for ambitious projects on the moon like landing humans and building a settlement, according to earlier state media reports. But the most ambitious project of China was to reach Mars around 2020.
This occurrence changed everything and could delay the mission.
China replacing the ISS.
China is aiming to replace the International Space Station after they plan to build its own, early next decade. The Chinese space station’s core module, scheduled to launch in 2019, requires the heavy-lift capability of CZ-5.
Chinese government is also thinking of using the CZ-5 to accelerate construction of Beidou. The latter is a global satellite navigation system pitched as China’s answer to the United States GPS.